Going for the Kill
There are many things our leaders do and keep mum about.
So when PM Datuk Seri Najib stayed up late Wednesday night to watch the badminton mixed doubles games, he was not about to tell the whole world about it.
Not because he was embarrassed about being another hopeful.
But because just like every other Malaysian, like it or not, Najib held in his heart of hearts the dream that Malaysia may just seize the moment and the gold.
“Although sadly Malaysia did not win gold, I stayed up to watch with my family,” he said.
Indonesia’s Ahmad Tontowi and Liliyana Natsir stomped on Malaysia’s dreams of a maiden Olympic gold medal by hammering Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in the mixed double final.
Malaysia have waited 52 years for an Olympic champion but their hopes of breaking the drought were extinguished in just 44 minutes by the rampant Indonesians.
Malaysians more “passionate” than ever before
But if there’s anything good that has come out of this, it is also Malaysians who are now speaking more passionately about a sport, about an Olympics that they probably were never ever bothered about before.
A flurry of congratulations to Malaysia’s mixed doubles pair ensued despite them settling for just the silver.
Not a word of “boo” except perhaps a daily bearing the headlines: ”Peng Soon-Liu Ying hampakan jutaan rakyat Malaysia” which sparked public outrage.
Who dare criticize the pair? Tell me.
Despite them messing up their service game, making several unforced errors, inability to get going with their smashes, everyone was just thankful and comfortable with the fact that the pair even made it to the finals.
It was the nightmare of London 2012 all over again when the pair was eliminated in the group stage after messing up their service.
But there is a “back story” that explains this nightmare.
This was shared by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin in his tweet which garnered more than 4 thousand likes and almost 12,000 retweets.
He said: “After she recovered she rejoined Peng Soon in partnership. Olympic qualification started in May 2015. They were ranked 79th in the world. They worked hard. They practiced their hearts out. Liu Ying focused on strengthening her legs. Peng Soon worked on staying focused. They climbed the rankings and qualified for Rio.”
Do you know this story?
Then again, there’s always a “story” behind every success or failure.
And the story continues with Malaysian men’s doubles pair and men’s singles.
One down and two to go
Doubles pair Goh V. Shem-Tan Wee Kiong now carry Malaysia’s hope to clinch the country’s first ever Olympics gold medal on Friday’s final.
The pair is riding high for the gold as they made a comeback to beat world number four Chinese pair 21-16, 15-21, 21-18 in the group matches.
They will take on China’s Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan.
The record between them favours the Malaysians with a 2-1 head-to-head count.
“We have come this far and we will not back down as we are more focused for the gold medal. Coming through the rounds have made us stronger for the final showdown,” said V. Shem.
Even as V.Shem-Wee Kiong step into the finals, badminton super star Datuk Lee Chong Wei is two steps away from gold.
The world number one takes on Lin Dan in the men’s singles semifinals also on Friday and will most probably face another Great Wall of China player in Chen Long in the final.
In the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, Lin Dan frustrated Chong Wei in the final.
However, both share the same dream — to finally take a break and bid farewell to the Olympics whilst in Rio.
A euphoric end to their illustrious careers.
It will be 33 year old Chong Wei’s first ever Olympic title if he wins
Lin Dan, who’s a year younger to Chong Wei, wants a gold medal hat-trick in his fourth Olympic appearance.
“Both of us want to go for the kill in our last Olympics and I am not ready for anyone to pluck my dreams away,” said Lin Dan.
However, both badminton legends could be in for a big surprise with spoiler, Chen Long, 27, another Lin Dan in the making.
Chen Long squares off in the other semifinals tie with 22-year-old Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
Men’s Singles Semifinals: 7.30pm, Friday, August 19, 2016
Men’s Doubles Finals – Gold Medal Match: 10.50pm, Friday, August 19, 2016